Miramar nursing home attorneys have just learned that a nursing home in northern Florida has had so many violations, it’s been placed on a national watch list that alerts residents and potential residents to problem facilities.
According to a local television station in Volusia County, the nursing home, which has several branches throughout the state, has come under fire for a number of violations, including failure to notify law enforcement authorities of an allegation of sexual abuse on a resident by a staff member.
A resident at the facility told employees that she witnessed an aide sexually assault her roommate back in January. However, according to the Department of Health and Human Services, staff at the nursing home failed to conduct their own internal investigation of the allegation, let alone notify police.
Advocates with Families for Better Care say that they’ve obtained information showing that the administrator was reticent to say that he should have called authorities, finally admitting in an interview with an inspector that he didn’t make the right call.
Nursing home residents have a right to expect that not only will they receive appropriate care, but that they will be protected and kept safe. Failure to report such an incident or even investigate it internally is not only detrimental to the one patient who was allegedly assaulted – it puts all residents at that facility at risk.
And yet, the facility remains open.
Having secured a spot on the government watch list – there are only six facilities in Florida that are on that list – the nursing home will no longer be allowed to accept new patients who are on Medicaid or Medicare until state inspectors give a stamp of approval. So they can still accept patients – just not those who receive government assistance in order to obtain care.
The Florida facilities on the list as of Sept. 20, 2012 that have not shown improvement are:
–Avante at Ormond Beach, Inc. in Ormond Beach;
–Summer Brook Health Care Center in Jacksonville;
–Lakeshore Villas Health Care Center in Tampa;
–Laurel Pointe Health and Rehabilitation in Fort Pierce;
Those Florida facilities on the list that have shown improvement are:
–Bayonet Point Health & Rehabilitation Center in Hudson;
–South Heritage Health & Rehabilitation Center in St. Petersburg;
Those Florida facilities that have recently been removed from the list (or “graduated”) are:
–Palm Terrace of St. Petersburg in St. Petersburg;
–Titusville Rehabilitation & Nursing Center in Titusville;
Despite being on this list, each of these nursing homes are still in operation. All of this shows us once again why it is so critical for family members to engage in due diligence before placing their loved one in a long-term care facility. It is never safe to assume that just because a facility is open that there are no problems.
A resident at this facility was quoted by a local reporter as saying that the staff and administrators do try to do a good job, but they are overworked. Particularly given that this is a chain facility, presumably one that is profitable (and most nursing homes are far more profitable than they may let on), there is absolutely no excuse for a failure of this magnitude.
Being on the watch list means that the facility will receive double the inspections of other nursing home facilities. However, this is no guarantee that other patients may not be harmed between now and the next 18 months, which will be the earliest opportunity for the facility to be removed from the watch list.
Older state reports provided by the Agency for Health Care Administration indicate that in 2007 and again in 2010, the facility was overcharging the government (i.e., taxpayers) for services provided through Medicaid. However, the AHCA had no record of the pending allegations or evidence of the fact that the facility has been placed on the federal watch list, which further shows how tough it can be for family members to make an informed decision about where to receive quality care.
Some of the proactive measures you can take in choosing a nursing home include:
1. Investigate potential facilities on the Nursing Home Compare website, which is operated by the government’s Medicare program. If you spot a facility with a 1-star or 2-star rating, don’t even consider it. Some of the most frequent complaints that result in low ratings include dehydration, malnutrition, pressure sores, abuse and even death.
2. Call the local ombudsman’s office and request additional information about the facility or facilities your are considering. You can learn more information about complaints and you may be able to get a better gauge of residents’ perspectives.
3. Tour the nursing home. Look past the lobby, which is often the area where nursing homes invest the most money to make it look inviting and homey. Don’t be fooled. Talk to residents and other family members out of earshot of the staff. Take note if the facility smells bad, if residents are left unattended for long stretches, if residents appear disheveled, if there are bugs or rodent droppings, if the furniture is excessively worn, if the staff are impolite or if there are few activities.
Freeman, Mallard, Sharp & Gonzalez — 1-800-561-7777 for a free appointment to discuss your rights.
Volusia Co. nursing home placed on national watch list for problems, Oct. 10, 2012, Staff Report, WFTV News
More Blog Entries:
Nursing Home Neglect: “Worst Bed Sores I’ve Ever Seen,” Doctor says, Oct. 8, 2012,